Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East including the Palestinian question
We thank Rosemary DiCarlo and Ursula Mueller for the briefings.
It is the first time we are convening a debate on the situation in the Middle East in 2020. Unfortunately, we again have to start the year with facing a sad fact: the region did not only fail to come up with any positive trends, but developed delved into even a deeper escalation.
We consider assassination of special force commander Q.Soleimani and his accompanying persons on 3 January in Baghdad that was committed at the territory of an independent state, member of the United Nations without this state even knowing about it to be an unacceptable step that undermines security and stability in the region. We call upon all sides to exercise restraint, be guided by common sense and prioritize diplomatic tools. As a result of those actions, the region and the whole world were put on a verge of conflict the effects of which could have been most unpredictable, because “stability margin” of the Middle East is running short.
The situation in the region could be de-escalated if the deliberately inflated tension around Iran went down. Middle Eastern states should jointly develop parameters of collective regional security. To achieve this, dialogue should be started. Today’s highly explosive situation in the Middle East to a large extent is explained by the fact that states of the region have not yet established effective communication channels. It is our shared task to help them do it. We have contributed to this goal by putting forward a draft security concept for the Persian Gulf.
We have achieved progress at the Syrian track. Thanks to the collective work of the “Astana format”, the major part of Syria’s territory was de-escalated and stabilized. The Constitutional Committee started its work on 30 October 2019.
In order to achieve lasting peace in Syria, have millions of refugees return to their homes, we need efforts aimed at restoring the economy of the country without any political preconditions.
On Sunday in Berlin an important step was made towards a political settlement in Libya. Russia made some extra efforts in order to ensure general de-escalation in Libya by convening meetings with representatives of major Libyan forces in Moscow on 13 January. However, these are but first steps that should be backed by profound work, in the first place in the UN framework, and by efforts of Special Representative Ghassan Salame. The Security Council is yet to consider the final agreements of the Berlin process. Thereby we proceed from the main settlement principle – it is Libyans who should decide on the future of their country.
We hope that thanks to the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Martin Griffiths progress will be achieved in terms of settlement in Yemen.
We agree that both Iraq and Lebanon are in need of soonest normalization to result from a broad national dialogue. The entire region needs calmness in those countries.
Against the backdrop of all these “hot” conflicts we should by no means forget about the lasting problem of the Middle East – Palestinian-Israeli settlement. Everyone who knows the history of the region is aware that unless the Palestinian question is resolved it is impossible to ensure peace in the region.
However, the “recipes” that we are insistently offered as “modern and advanced” solutions for the Middle Eastern settlement only move us away from solving the Palestinian problem. Attempts to blur the existing international legal basis for the settlement are of little help. We do not accept the “policy of accomplished facts” that is aimed at corrupting the internationally recognized basis for the Middle Eastern settlement. I am talking about recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, relocation of an embassy to Jerusalem, proclaimed plans to annex the Jordan Valley, settlement activity, demolition of Palestinian buildings. This but undermines efforts made on the way to a sustainable two-state solution.
Amidst these circumstances it is important as never before to galvanize efforts of the global community to support the legal basis for the Middle Eastern settlement, including relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles, and the Arab Peace Initiative.
The work of the “Quartet” of mediators (Russia, the US, the EU, the UN) needs to be reanimated. It is also crucial to overcome the internal Palestinian divide between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Therefore, we welcome readiness expressed by all stakeholders to participate in general elections based on previous intra-Palestinian agreements. We expect the elections to convene at all Palestinian territories within the indicated period.
We give a high assessment to the activity of UNRWA that contributes to stabilization. We call upon all interested stakeholders to set forth their support for the Agency.